Tuesday, February 14, 2012

LAT- thank you for last week !

Last Thursday night, our Torvehallerne shop became the stomping ground for 70 odd Latte Artists and spectators in another installment of our ongoing series of Latte Art Throwdowns; Denmarks most ferocious steamed milk-pouring event. In this competition, anyone can join in an attempt to outdo opponents in a series of eliminatory rounds. Every contestant must anti up a small fee, which becomes the winner’s prize. The idea is to go head to head against opponents to pour the prettiest Rosetta, Tulip, Heart, or other mind blowing and innovative pattern onto espresso, after which a panel of snarling, snaggletoothed judges carefully evaluates each design and picks the better of the two for each round. The competition goes on until all are eliminated but the winner, who takes the glory and the pot. Last Thursday, our very own ‘Little Peter’ went on a tulip-pouring rampage and smacked everyone down on his way to the top, walking home with heavy, coin-filled pockets, and a smile that’s still stuck on his face today.

Right before the competition begins, everyone gets a chance to warm up, and the espresso machine becomes swarmed with eager baristas. This little warm up is necessary, since every espresso machine has its quirks. When the competition begins, a volunteer pulls a shot, and the round’s contestants begin steaming their milk. Although many of the participants are experienced baristas who are perfectly able to pour beautiful latte art, the tricky part is keeping a steady hand. Judges, peers, and spectators surround the espresso machine, and it’s normal for a pourer to become tense, and to quiver a little. Unfortunately, a minor wobble can ruin a whole pattern, and cost you the round, making this a very entertaining event to watch, and to participate in. If nothing else, the adrenaline rush makes this worthwhile to try, whether you've tried pouring before or not.

The idea of a Latte Art competition is not new, but its effect is definitely noteworthy, and seems to be similar throughout all Barista communities. This type of lighthearted event allows participants to improve their skills, test different work environments and meet likeminded coffee enthusiasts.

What shocked us about this most recent installment was the incredibly high turnout, with a fantastic mix of curious individuals, home baristas, and representation from most specialty cafes in Copenhagen and Malmo. In our industry, there often seems to be a hermetic seal between the aforementioned parties, which in effect makes everyone lose out socially and professionally, especially when the divide occurs between cafes. Sharing information has become imperative in the specialty coffee industry; a sector that takes enormous strides at an exponential rate. Most of the collaboration and information sharing seems to be done through websites and blogs, which is remarkable, but often cafes forget that their neighbors can be invaluable sources of knowledge and inspiration. These seemingly silly evenings of competition become great opportunities for networking and sharing ideas, and therefore can be major factors in elevating the quality of the coffee that everyone is serving. Many competitions and conventions exist, but none are as casual as these, and therefore they offer a different set of advantages, and a strong sense of community. Perhaps we could be perceived as trying to legitimize the act of getting tipsy and making coffee, but nonetheless, we will continue to host these events, and continue to believe we’re doing something constructive. Please don’t let this meaningful bit deter you from attending; it’s still all just fun and games!

We would like to thank all of those who came on Thursday, and to invite you, and anyone who’s interested to come to our next event. Based on the great success of our last throwdown, which could only be described as epic, we intend on hosting something similar every month. We’ll keep you posted. 

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